/ Press releases

September 6th, 2012

HIFF is honoured to welcome Dan Janvey, the producer of the film occurrence of the year: BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Other festival guests include Stefano Sollima, the Italian director of A.C.A.B., a film that has raised a lot of discussion, and Nordic talents such as Mads Matthiesen, the director of the awarded film TEDDY BEAR. As HIFF celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks into the future, the festival is happy to host many young and rising filmmakers who knowingly challenge the conventional way of filmmaking. HIFF will announce more guests next week.


Dan Janvey
New Yorker Dan Janvey arrives in Helsinki to introduce the long-awaited HIFF Opening Film, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Janvey is a member of the Court 13 Pictures production company based in New Orleans. Court 13 describes itself as “a grassroots, independent filmmaking army,” that attempts to challenge academic rules and conventional codes of filmmaking.

The praised BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is Court 13’s first feature film production. The film directed by Benh Zeitlin has won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the best first feature film Golden Camera Prize at Cannes and the FIPRESCI prize, granted by an international jury of film critics. Court 13 has previously produced Zeitlin’s short film GLORY AT SEA.

”Court 13 Pictures represents an artistic fire hazard that stands to torch any parts of your brain that still cling to the concept of ’normal’.” (Animation World Network Magazine.)

Dan Janvey available for interviews: 21st of September

Adam Leon
Another director hailing from New York is director-screenwriter Adam Leon (b.1981), who won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW with his first full-length film GIMME THE LOOT. Leon’s debut film paints a fresh and rugged image of New York’s graffiti scene and the lives of young Bronxites. GIMME THE LOOT will be screened at HIFF as part of the Indie Jewels theme. The film saw its premiere at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard series. The acclaimed short film KILLER is Leon’s previous piece.

Adam Leon in Helsinki 20th – 23rd of September

Josh Dragotta
The director of SATAN’S ANGEL: QUEEN OF THE FIRE TASSELS, Josh Dragotta, began working with film already in the 1980s, and later ended up studying photography. Since 2007, Dragotta has been working with his production company in Los Angeles. SATAN’S ANGEL, which will be seen in HIFF’s theme Stripped, is a film about a fiery 68-year-old burlesque dancer Angel Walker.

Joshua Dragotta in Helsinki 22nd – 26th September


Stefano Sollima
Italian director Stefano Sollima ended up as the talk of town in his homeland due to his TV-series Romanzo Criminale. His first feature film, A.C.A.B.: ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS is a bold depiction of the dismal work of riot police. The film is based on an acclaimed book by the same name, written by journalist Carlo Bonini, who has researched the relation of power and the use of force. Stefano Sollima is the son of the legendary Italo-Western director, Sergio Sollima.

Stefano Sollima available for interviews: 24th – 25th September

Ronald Vietz
Former skateboarder and experienced producer of THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA, Berliner Ronald Vietz, has worked with documentaries, advertisements and music videos. THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA combines archive and skate video material with animation and fresh memoirs into a bold depiction of the amusement-thirsty youth culture of 1980s GDR, where skateboarding was prohibited.

Ronald Vietz in Helsinki 21st – 23rd September

Rene Bitorajac
The lead actor of Branko Schmidt’s VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL, Rene Bitorajac (b.1972), is known from the Oscar-winning film NO MAN’S LAND, which was also seen in Finnish film distribution. VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL, a provocative and shocking thriller about a gynaecologist who performs abortions at an illegal fertility clinic in Zagreb, will be seen at HIFF as part of the Emerging Europe theme. Both Schmidt and Bitorajac received an award for the film at Pula Film Festival, the longest running film festival in Croatia.

Rene Bitorajac in Helsinki 22nd – 25th September

Mikhail Brashinsky
Before his career as a filmmaker, Mikhail Brashinsky has worked as a popular film critic, a conductor of the Trans-Siberia Express, a waiter at a Turkish restaurant and a teacher of film at New York University. The debut film of this worldly director, BLACK ICE, was chosen to the programme of Berlin Film Festival in 2003. His new film, SHOPPING TOUR, is a zombie-film set inside a Finnish home appliance store.

Brashinsky visits Helsinki together with the producer of the film, Gennady Mirgorodsky.

Mikhail Brashinsky and Gennady Mirgorodsky in Helsinki 23rd – 25th September



Jukka Kärkkäinen & J-P Passi
The Finnish nominee for the Nordic Council Film Prize, THE PUNK SYNDROME, has already gathered international acclaim. The documentary follows the band training, everyday life and tour of punk-band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. Both Jukka Kärkkäinen and J-P Passi are accomplished Finnish filmmakers.

Jukka Kärkkäinen & J-P Passi in Helsinki from 27th of September

Arild Andresen
The latest film from Norwegian director, Arild Andresen (b.1967), THE ORHEIM COMPANY, was rewarded with two Norwegian Amanda film awards and it is the Norwegian nominee for the Nordic Council Film Prize. THE ORHEIM COMPANY tells the story of Jarle, who after his father’s death, has to face his youth tainted by domestic violence in 1980’s Stavanger. Andresen’s first film is the award-winning THE LIVERPOOL GOALIE (2009).

Arild Andresen in Helsinki 27th – 30th September

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson

Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson (b.1978) began his career filming skate videos and was later accepted to study film at Columbia University in New York. His student work, short film RATTLESNAKES, collected awards around different festivals. Sigurðsson’s first feature film EITHER WAY is filled with fantastic dry humour. Iceland’s crude nature and the 80s inspired atmosphere work wonders in the awarded film, which took home the Best Film Award at Turin Film Festival in 2011.

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson in Helsinki 20th – 23rd September

The Swedish nominee for the Nordic Council Film Prize is Ruben Östlund’s PLAY; the Danish nominee is Nikolaj Arcel’s A ROYAL AFFAIR.



Mads Matthiesen
The Danish talent, Mads Matthiesen, received The World Cinema Directing Award at Sundance for his first feature film, TEDDY BEAR. The lead role of the film draws attention to the need for human contact and independence, and is played by the champion body-builder Kim Kold. TEDDY BEAR is based on Matthiesen’s awarded short film DENNIS from 2007.

Mads Matthiesen in Helsinki 25th – 27th September

Simon Staho
Danish director Simon Staho (b.1972) has had the honour to work with some of the most shining stars of Nordic cinema: Mikael Persbrandt, Noomi Rapace, Pernilla August and Lena Olin. His first feature film was starred by none other than Mads Mikkelsen himself. Known for quality dramas, his latest film, LOVE IS IN THE AIR, is surprisingly a pop-musical.

Simon Staho in Helsinki 22nd – 24th September

Andreas Öhman
The young Swedish director Andreas Öhman’s (b.1985) film SIMPLE SIMON (2010) was chosen as Sweden’s Oscar nominee the year of its release. The film follows the life of Simon, a serious young man who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, played by the sympathetic Bill Skarsgård (BEHIND BLUE SKIES, HIFF 2011). Öhman currently works at animation studio Naïve in Stockholm.

Andreas Öhman in Helsinki 20th – 23rd September

Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir
Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir
(b.1977) is one of the three directors of the acclaimed documentary GRANDMA LO-FI. Kristjánsdóttir is a musician and visual artist who has been a key figure in the art scene of Iceland for over a decade. GRANDMA LO-FI tells the story of Sigríður Níelsdóttir, a retiree-musician who has gathered a cult following. The film is Kristjánsdóttir’s first work as a director.

Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir in Helsinki 25th – 28th September


Jaak Kilmi

THE NEW WORLD is a five-year project during which a group of enthusiastic activists attempting to mould a Tallinn suburb into an ideal community were filmed. However, communal urban culture, street parties and choral singing aren’t to everyone’s liking. Jaan Tootseen’s film has been produced and partly filmed and written by Jaak Kilmi, who is familiar to HIFF from his films DISCO AND ATOMIC WAR (HIFF 2009) and TALLINN SPICED SPRATS: THE CANNED TALES (HIFF 2011).

Jaak Kilmi in Helsinki 22nd – 25th September

Ain Mäeots
Director Ain Mäeots’ black comedy, DEMONS, tells the story of three addictive gamblers. Greed and the pressure of debts show the wildest sides of people. Mäeots has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and has directed over 30 theatre and TV-productions. Mäeots has himself suffered from gambling addiction.

Ain Mäeots in Helsinki 25th – 27th September

Tambet Tuisk
The awarded actor, Tambet Tuisk, acts in both Ain Mäeots’ DEMONS and Rainer Sarnet’s THE IDIOT. The cast in the adaptation of Fjodor Dostojevsky’s play is filled with leading actors of Estonian cinema, amongst which Tuisk has been appointed the role of the unbalanced Rogozin. Tuisk was a guest at HIFF also in 2008 in association with the film I WAS HERE.

Tambet Tuisk in Helsinki 24th – 26th September.


Three Finnish films have been chosen to the Nordic Exports theme, which introduces some of the best new Nordic films. The Finnish films are SALPA, written and directed by Zagros Manuchar; DANCE OF OUTLAWS, which received an award at Locarno, by Mohamed El Aboudi; and THE ANNUNCIATION, an experimental film by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, which has also gathered international acclaim.

The latest film by artist-filmmaker Ilppo Pohjola will see its Finnish premier during HIFF. The film titled 1 PLUS 1 PLUS 1 – SYMPATHY FOR THE DECAY will be seen in the Film in Concert event, which combines live music and the film screening.

Oskari Pastila’s film KNUCKLEBONEHEAD, which follows the Finnish rock ’n’ roll band Knucklebone Oscar, will be screened as part of the Turn it Up theme. A screening of the autobiographical film by Sonja Lindén, FIVE STAR EXISTNECE, will be seen as part of the Brave New World theme. The film received the award for best documentary at the Seattle Film Festival in June.

In addition, another 23 Finnish films will be screened at the Finnish Film Week, which is part of the HIFF programme. A number of Finnish short films will also be screened, and filmmakers will be present.

Telley Savalas Otieno
Telley Savalas Otieno
is the lead actor in the film THE MARSHAL OF FINLAND, produced by the Finnish National Broadcasting Company Yle. Otieno has been extensively involved in both Kenyan and international film productions, as well as theatre. Savalas Otieno played supporting roles in LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER and NOWHERE IN AFRICA. He has studied theatre and literature at the University of Nairobi.

Gilbert Lukalia
The director of THE MARSHAL OF FINLAND, Gilbert Lukalia, is an established filmmaker who has directed a number of feature films and TV-series in Kenya. Lukalia grew up in a military family and began his career as an actor before stepping behind the camera. He has also worked in multiple different positions in the film industry: as an assistant director and producer. At the moment Lukalia works at the Nairobi based Dream House Productions, which produces theatre plays, music events, TV-series and films.

Telley Savalas Otieno and Gilbert Lukalia in Helsinki 25th – 28th September

Alessandro “Sandro” Donati

Alessandro Donati is an Italian doping researcher, an ex-coach and an anti-doping advocate. Donati’s battle against doping has resulted in dramatic changes at both national and international level. During the recent years he has researched cocaine trafficking on top of his doping research.

In the HIFF Finnish Film Gala, Arto Halonen’s WHEN HEROES LIE, the doping history of cross-country skiing is under the magnifying glass. Events related to the sport are looked at from the 1970s all the way to the present, with especial point made of the 2001 dramatic occurrences at the World Championships in Lahti and the STT doping court case, which began in 1998.

Donati takes part in the panel discussion on 27th of September at 5.15pm at Tavastia Club with former Minister of Justice Tuija Brax, Minister of Culture and Sport Paavo Arhinmäki and Minister Lauri Tarasti. The panel is moderated by professor Hannu Itkonen, chairman of the European Association for Sociology of Sport.

Alessandro Donati in Helsinki 25th – 28th September

More information and interview requests:
Publicist Henna Raatikainen / HIFF / henna@hiff.fi / +358 44 268 7564 / hiff.fi